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These spaghetti squash meatball boats are the definition of comfort food! Spaghetti squash is topped with an easy marinara sauce, perfectly-cooked meatballs, and cheese for a dinner that everyone will love.
These spaghetti squash meatball boats are GOOD y’all! While you probably know by now that I’m by no means anti-pasta (see here and here), I’ve always loved spaghetti squash in its own right. If you go in to a spaghetti squash-based meal expecting pasta, you’re probably going to be disappointed. BUT, if you can get past the fact that spaghetti squash isn’t actually spaghetti you’ll learn to love it for what it is: a delicious, slightly nutty winter squash that takes on the shape of noodles and is a great vehicle for different sauces, makes a great side dish, a perfect casserole base, and even a mean chow mein!
Now, let’s chat about these spaghetti squash meatball boats, which are possibly one of my favorite things that we’ve done with spaghetti squash so far! You’ll get started by roasting the squash. While that’s going, you’ll turn your attention to making the meatballs and the marinara. We keep things simple for the meatballs, combining ground beef with plenty of spices to give them good flavor, and then we bake them, which saves you from the mess and time of pan-frying. You can also bake the meatballs at the same time as the spaghetti squash, just make sure you place them on the rack above the squash!
The last component for these spaghetti squash meatball boats is a quick marinara – but you can absolutely buy a bottle of your own favorite spaghetti sauce instead. Now that you’ve got all your components in place it’s time for the best part – assembly! You’ll scrape out the spaghetti squash strands, toss them with the sauce, then put them back in the boats. Then, you’ll top them with the meatballs, sprinkle with cheese and bake until that cheese gets good and melty.
We hope you love these spaghetti squash meatball boats as much as we do!
For the Boats:
For the Meatballs:
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1/4 onion minced
- 3 cloves garlic finely minced
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
- For the Sauce:**
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ yellow onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ teaspoon coarse sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ cup red wine
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds with a spoon, and place the halves cut side up on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, until the strands of the squash easily pull away from the shells with a fork.
- While the squash is cooking, make the meatballs: add the ground beef, onion, garlic, and seasonings to a large bowl, then work the mixture with your hands until the ingredients are fully incorporated.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, then form the meatballs into 1-inch balls and place on the baking sheet. Bake at 400 F for 18 minutes. Note: you can bake the meatballs at the same time as the spaghetti squash, just make sure to place the meatballs on the rack above the squash.
- While the meatballs bake, add the olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion and garlic and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes, until the onion is translucent and the garlic is fragrant.
- Add the remaining ingredients to the pot and stir to combine. Bring to a boil to cook the alcohol off the wine, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and slightly reduced.
- To assemble the boats: remove the spaghetti squash from its shell and toss the strands with the sauce, then scoop the spaghetti squash back into the shells on a rimmed baking sheet. Place the meatballs on top of the spaghetti squash, then sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese. Return to the oven to bake at 400 F for an additional 10 minutes, until the cheese is browned and bubbling.
- Garnish with fresh parsley and serve!
- To save time, you can easily replace the sauce in this recipe with your own favorite bottle of spaghetti sauce!
- For dairy-free/Paleo/Whole 30: Omit the cheese in the recipe. Even if you are omitting the cheese, you should still bake your re-assembled spaghetti squash boats for 10 minutes to brown everything and allow the flavors to meld!
- For low FODMAP: Omit the onion and garlic. You can replace it by adding a teaspoon of garlic olive oil to the meatballs and an additional teaspoon to the sauce. For onion flavor, take the top of three leeks (green part only) then slice them and add them to the sauce as it simmers. Remove the leek tops before eating.